Port Coquitlam gears up to revamp downtown

The ripple effect of Port Coquitlam's planned recreation complex was top of mind today (Thursday) as an advisory group tasked to energize Port Coquitlam's downtown met for the first time.

The ripple effect of Port Coquitlam's planned recreation complex was top of mind today (Thursday) as an advisory group tasked to energize Port Coquitlam's downtown met for the first time.

The group is working with representatives from Cushing Terrell — an American-based firm made up of architects, engineers and planners — to look at how to spur redevelopment quicker in the area bounded by Wilson Avenue, Mary Hill Road, Kingsway Avenue/CP Rail line and Maple Street.

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(The community rec complex will be located on the edge of the core, on a 15-acre campus where the PoCo rec complex now sits.)

Chaired by Mayor Greg Moore, the group will create a Downtown Action Plan with the aim to draw a wider reach of services and amenities to Shaughnessy Street and its surrounding roads. As well, the group will also address how the city can buy and sell land for new development and create new opportunities and incentives for land owners and businesses.

Moore said the city's current Downtown Plan from 1998 "is a strong vision but we want to have an action plan that lays out the details about how we can get there sooner. This is really the boots-on-the-ground plan," he said.

Moore pointed to a Shaughnessy Street property that has been up for sale for a year since a major fire ripped through the building. "We want to know why hasn't it sold. Is it because of land use policy or economic development? We can make those changes."

One of the challenges with building in PoCo's downtown is the high-water table, he said. Developers can't go down for deep underground parking unless they build a "tank," which is cost prohibitive given the value of PoCo land compared with Vancouver, where it's an option. "The question is, how do we overcome that?" the mayor asked.

The advisory group, which has a six-month mandate, also includes downtown property owners Kumar Nagpal, Eric S.H. Lee, Alex Su, Donald Liu and Harpreet Saran; business owner Catherine Polonio of Coquitlam Florist; Patrick Gunville of Realty Executives; Carol Metz Murray of the Tri-City Transitions Society, representing non-profit groups; downtown resident Drew McArthur; and community member Christie Potter. Susanna Walden and Brad Fenton of the Downtown Port Coquitlam Business Improvement Association are also on board.

The Downtown Action Plan, once adopted, will be included as part of the city's new official community plan. Visit portcoquitlam.ca/downtown for more information.

For more details on the community rec complex, go to portcoquitlam.ca/recplan. 

jcleugh@tricitynews.com

@jcleughTC

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